UnitedHealth ups profit forecast after strong start to year

UnitedHealth’s first-quarter profit jumped about 44%, and the nation’s largest health insurer also hiked its 2021 outlook despite expecting more hits from the COVID-19 pandemic. The company said Thursday that the performance of its Optum division was particularly strong. The company raised its full-year forecast to adjusted earnings of $18.10 to $18.60 per share. That largely exceeds analyst expectations and includes an expected continued hit from COVID-19. The ongoing pandemic has added treatment and testing costs to insurer balance sheets. UnitedHealth also expects to see more claims as patients return to hospitals and surgery centers for care they had postponed.